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Myths and Misconceptions Affect Menstrual Health Management Among Women and Girls with Disabilities

By Collings Kalivute:

Health authorities in Kasungu say myths and misconceptions about Menstrual Health Management (MHM) are among the factors haunting women and girls to quality Menstrual hygiene.

Speaking during a day-long training for the 60 women and girls with disability in Kasungu under Umunthu FM’s “Quality Menstrual Health for Women and Girls with Disability project”, Kasungu District Health Office Youth friendly coordinator Esinai Zimba said unhygienic sanitary materials exposes marginalized women and girls to infections that threaten their health.

Zimba said besides the knowledge gap on menstrual health management, some quarters of the society associate the menstrual period with rituals hence calling for awareness on the same.

“Only if society is well sensitized on menstrual hygiene and sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), issues of discrimination will be of the past. Unfortunately, due to the prevalent belief associating menstruation with rituals, many girls and women, especially those who use cloth materials, fail to dry them properly in the sun, thereby posing a threat to their health,” she explained.

Zimba making a presentation during the training.

However, Manes Matsimbe Williams, a teacher with Visual impairment at Chankhanga Secondary School admits that girls and women with disability face a lot of challenges.

“Many girls with disability easily drop out of school as they find it hard to manage their menstrual period. In most cases these girls are victims of stigma and discrimination from their fellows,” laments Maness.

Kasungu District welfare officer Ephraim Njikho concedes that the knowledge gap on Menstrual Health management and sexual Reproductive Health and Rights among people with disabilities remains a challenge in the district.

Njikho said people with disabilities are not reached with information regarding SRHR as well as Menstrual Health management and hence feel sidelined.

“Some people think that people with disability are not eligible to be reached out with information regarding SRHR and menstrual hygiene management. We need to intensify advocacy on such issues as it is a right for every citizen to access such services,” said Njikho.

Meanwhile, Ivy Tunkete Mwanyongo, the project Officer at Umunthu FM, acknowledged the challenges faced by women and girls with disabilities. She emphasized the organization’s commitment to intensifying advocacy efforts.

Mwanyongo stated that in addition to training women and girls with disabilities on quality menstrual hygiene, they would collaborate with local authorities to address knowledge gaps surrounding menstrual health.

Umunthu FM is implementing an 18-month project with an opportunity grant from Amplify Change in five Traditional Authorities (T/A) of Wimbe, Mwase, Lukwa, Kaomba, and Chilowamatambe in Kasungu.

 

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